This article will contain spoilers… proceed at your own peril. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I watched the trailer for The Great Wall in theatres but it was visually appealing enough for me to go see the film. I don’t watch a lot of these medieval style films, I’m not big on historical films either. I don’t play DND like some of our other writers do but none the less I was drawn to go see The Great Wall. I have to say, in part… I might have even been drawn into the film because of all President Trump’s talk about building a wall on the U.S. Mexican boarder. So much talk of walls these days. This film recounts the historical struggle and victory of the the Chinese people after a great meteor crashed into the mountains, bringing with it hordes of alien predators. Like most films they take the true historical facts and intertwine them with a romance of the ages. Let’s be clean here.. meteors have been crashing into the Chinese mountains for years so in all likelihood this tale holds some water. While the actual number of alien creatures and their appearance may not be accurate. It’s very likely that these early civilizations had to defend our planet from aliens such as the ones in this film.
The costumes, scenery and visual effects were generally kick-ass. The film starts on a desert, so it’s all sepia and drab, and then BOOM! You hit the wall. As soon as you hit that wall things start to get fancy and things don’t take very long to start rock’n. OK, so I was saying earlier in this article how I don’t play much DND or romanticize about medieval days. That’ doesn’t mean I don’t think it looks dope as fuck. There was a lot of detail in this film, the armor, weapons and battle tactics were expertly re-created with historical accuracy to really bring you into the period and remind us all that doing battle with alien creatures is both a visual and physical artform mastered by our ancestors. The creatures did have that trademark CGI look to them but I think I’m immune to it by now. I really appreciate it when I can’t tell if a creature is prosthetic or CGI. Here, everything was clearly CGI but who cares. I even liked the throwback Power Ranger costumes of the Chinese army. There seemed to be a little more to the back story to this this class of warrior than the director was able to edit in because the Chinese warriors had a system of color coding their armor that coincided with their combat style and there was also a sacred amulet with stones reflecting the different colors of these warrior classes though little explanation was given. Maybe, there will be a follow up movie that covers the historical origins of these forgotten warriors who may have saved our entire planet. We can only hope.
Matt Damon was a complete bad-ass in this film. He played a cross between Jason Bourne (No, he’ll never escape that roll) and Hawkeye with a twist of Robin Hood for style. He wasn’t really full on Robin Hood because he wasn’t robbing from the rich and giving to the poor, he was trying to steal some gun powder from the Chinese. While he did have a romance and found his Maid Marian he was much more agile than I remember Robin Hood ever being (Kevin Costner) and Damon did a lot of slides and jumps while shooting his arrows. It was good action. Part of the problem with this film is the entire premise that the creatures could easily be defeated by something as simple as a magnet. If you get a magnet close to the alien… it will just go to sleep. I suppose magnetism was akin to witchcraft during this period. The only part of this premise I think hold some weight is that an alien invader may very well find themselves vulnerable to some commonly occurring element or force on our planet. This is probably a thread of truth we can pull from this ancient and historical tale.